Children in the city
This story was featured in the January 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art January 2013 print edition, or download the Southwest Art January 2013 issue now…Or just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss an issue!
Although Kevin Peterson is a figurative painter, the urban environment plays a major role in his provocative visual narratives. Peterson is fond of setting children against a background of gritty streets and graffiti-covered walls. The Houston-based painter says his inspiration springs from this juxtaposition—the innocence and purity that children represent contrasted with the decayed and weathered surfaces of the city. This tension-creating contrast serves as both a recurring theme and a metaphor in Peterson’s haunting works. “At one point the walls and backdrops in my paintings were shiny and new, untouched, just like we were as kids,” he says. “Then people, the elements, or whatever comes along and breaks down, corrupts, or tarnishes them. At the same time, others come along and repair, rebuild, and decorate the walls and backdrops. It’s kind of like what happens to us throughout our lives.”
Peterson has painted and drawn for as long as he can remember. In spite of that, when it came time for college, he didn’t think he could make a living as an artist and settled on majoring in psychology at Austin College in Sherman, TX. After graduation he pursued a career in social work for a few years. However, the siren call of a life in fine art lured him back to his boyhood passions.
Today, instead of trying to help solve social problems, he prefers to portray them in paint. “I’ve always enjoyed painting the figure,” Peterson says. “Maybe my interest in humans on a psychological level has influenced it. People fascinate me. And I enjoy the challenge of painting flesh and portrait work. It is never easy. It is always a challenge. But when I achieve that lifelike feel, I find painting the figure very rewarding.”
As this story was going to press, Peterson was in both a solo show at Thinkspace Art Gallery in Culver City, CA, and a group show at Quidley & Company in Boston. He was also preparing works for a solo show at San Francisco’s Shooting Gallery later this year. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the January 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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